The feelings, they burn in my belly.

I am really struggling with the fact that I can’t wake up and medicate because I’m never sure when or if I’m driving. That’s feeling really overwhelming right now. I’m crispy fried because of the emotional bouncing. It’s getting really hard. At home I create more of a baseline. On the road I don’t have a baseline. I’m taking medication to make sure I sleep every night (or else we would be aborting and going home) but the days are hard.

I’ve been diagnosed with multiple anxiety disorders. It is entirely reasonable that I feel so anxious I want to puke most of the time. It sucks, but it makes sense.

I feel like, if I lived in Duluth and could invite these folks over to my house so they could see my rules in action… we could get along like a house on fire and spend lots of time together. I think if the kids could experience the different sets of rules as a comparison, things would get easier.

I’m a bombastic person. When I am constantly, only, trying to meld into someone else’s rules (when I don’t really know what they are and I’m guessing and trying to not be too offensive) it’s hard. I am hard to deal with when I’m trying to gentle down to other people fast without really knowing the parameters of what is ok.

Different people have different boundaries. It’s hard figuring out. Some people don’t mind the fact that we suddenly shriek loudly in the middle of a game. Other people flip out and act like we are monsters who just burned their house down. Some people don’t care that I swear, some people spend their entire time near me giving me dirty looks and letting me know that they don’t approve.

It’s hard to guess what people will be like.

So we’ve been doing a lot of adapting and that’s super stressful and hard. We’re doing pretty darn well, I think, but my central nervous system is acting like I’ve been dancing on a telephone wire for a few days. I’m getting those bbbzzzzzzt jolts in my chest and I feel jumpy and twitchy and discombobulated.

I am grateful beyond the ability of words to convey that I am being given this opportunity. My wonderful friends are opening their homes and their kind hearts to me. It is stressful because I believe everyone in the world should hate me and want me to die. My friends are being wonderful to me. I am not complaining about my friends.

(I am complaining a little about my friend’s kids screaming “Go away” so many times. But they are kids. I have a “kids are being kids and that’s annoying” complaint about the kids. We’re negotiating and it’s going way better.)

Frankly, after I had some chats with the boys about, “If you want to get what you want to get… let’s find some different words and tactics. I can help you actually get what you want instead of just screaming and pissing everyone off.”

Kids like it when you teach them how to manipulate. Muahahaha.

I told my friend that I didn’t think her kids would like me if I stayed around here long term because they are very impatient and demanding when they talk to her and if I heard it a lot I would start working on them. “That’s not how you talk to your mother. She is not your employee. Try again.” She laughed and said she would love it and she thinks that they would long-term benefit and learn to see the value in me.

Heh.

I told her that lots of kids have strong feelings about me. I’m a polarizing figure. They can love or hate me. Sometimes both at the same time. It’s funny when kids can’t stay away from me because they are so drawn to me but most of what they want to do is hit me or slam things into my shins. Little bastards. We work it out.

Sometimes I wonder if those kids like that I will sit there and discuss boundaries with them verbally in great detail. “If you smack me this hard it feels like a love tap. If you smack me as hard as you did the first time it feels like you are saying you don’t like me and I’m going to get up and leave the room. Don’t do that to me again.” Kid goes back to give me 34,721 love taps.

Whatever.

I don’t know about other people but I’ve always had a bitch of a time figuring out how hard I should or shouldn’t touch people. Folks vary so much. Some people if you touch them gently they don’t notice. They will ignore you and go on with their day. You need to Get Their Attention with a firmness that would be a major boundary violation for someone else. It’s fucking complicated. The line between “Getting your attention” and “assault” is razor thin and you have to dance on top of it sometimes.

I think it is a lot of the reason I needed to hit people so much when I was a kid. I needed to have the experience of finding out that some people barely flinch when punched and some people are on the floor sobbing when you flick them with your finger.

We all get to be different. We all get to have our own experiences of living in our bodies. But I get why it is hard to talk about concepts like assault and rape. There isn’t a standard WAY TO KNOW about these issues because people vary.

If I were kicked in the course of a martial arts class… I would not feel assaulted. If I am kicked in the middle of what is supposed to be not-that-rough-play… it feels like assault.

Context is important.

So many of these things are about individual viewer judgment. I cannot count how many people have presumed to tell me that I haven’t been raped I just made bad decisions.

I’m the one who knows I *did not want* that to happen to me. You thinking that I should have magically found a way to fight harder in order to make it “count” as rape is… irrelevant.

Learning how to fight people off of your body is not an instinct everyone is born with. I’ve had to fight and struggle to learn very hard over many years to defend myself. I didn’t when I was a little kid. I just went limp and let it happen.

I don’t want to be that any more and I want my kids to never be like that.

So it’s my fault I just let it happen. It’s my fault I didn’t risk greater injury so that someone else would feel ok about calling what happened to me rape. I didn’t earn their regard.

I didn’t earn the right to call being kicked in the throat an assault. I would have had to be a perfect victim. I am not. I’m a complicated bitch. I would have had to… I don’t know… been kicked by someone who wasn’t white before people would have been willing to listen.

When I hear white women tell me they are afraid of men of color I snort in derision. I’ve never had a man who was not white touch me nor insult me nor assault me. I mean, I’ve been verbally approached but when I said no with a torrent of swear words they turned away with their hands thrown up. I don’t look like a target to them.

Just to white men.

My kids and the kids who had been screaming “go away” actually got along very well yesterday. I think this is mostly because I was a fascist and I managed to talk my friend into telling her kids to stay off the screens. We play nicely when folks aren’t screaming “Go AWAY” while playing a violent video game where they don’t want to be distracted. If we can’t game together in a friendly way then stop gaming. Go play instead.

I’m going to have to get to a point where I let my kids deal with the fact that if they want to be gamers they are going to have to learn how to deal with hundreds, nay thousands of fucking men and boys who are going to scream at them to go away. This is the softball early version.

This is why I don’t play fucking video games. Too many boys and men have screamed at me like this. It’s not a fucking fun sounding hobby any more. Sounds like a nightmare. I can get to the point of liking something only to have people of a different gender scream hysterically that I have to just GET OUT NOW.

I have huge triggers around this. I wish my fucking daughter didn’t want to be a fucking gamer. UGHGUGHGHGHFGHGHADfoihaweifkjhds;gfh;eovwaekln

AND I’M UN-FUCKING-MEDICATED AS I DEAL WITH THIS GAMER ASS HOLE BULLSHIT

Some day I will have to get over my brothers. Hopefully before my friend’s mother in law does. Holy crap.

In one place we visited we had tacos for dinner. Mother in law *shoved* everyone out of the way to fix a huge heaping plate of taco fillings, then she grabbed a big stack of taco shells and retreated into a corner. There was enough on her plate to feed my family of four at home. “When I was a kid I learned to eat tacos this way because otherwise my brothers didn’t let me have any.”

Aren’t you in your late 60’s? You know how you literally never leave the house because you are agoraphobic? There is some possibility you don’t need to eat like you are doing physical exercise in the Alaskan wilderness any more. You live in a big city and you never leave your house. You probably don’t need to rush to take four peoples worth of food and then eat it as fast as you can swallow.

Hopefully I will get to a healthier relative place than that with video games. I’m not nasty about my kids playing. I’m nasty about it turning into a nasty fight. If there is a lot of “go away” screaming I’m going to get really nasty.

Why are people so damn nasty to everyone? Why in the hell can’t we ask for things without being a complete asshole?

Oh man. Oh shit. The kids nailed me on something. I was talking to the two boys here about tone and shut up and what it means and how it is demeaning and “shut up” is something that is only supposed to be said by someone with power to someone they have power over and that’s a lot of why it is demeaning–it isn’t supposed to be used between equals. It doesn’t work. My darling children turned to me and said, “If it is demeaning you have to stop saying that to us. That’s not ok.”

Shit. I need to stop defining things for them.

First: I WISH I HADN’T PROPERLY EXPLAINED DEMEANING. Then I wish they would let me demean them just a little bit with the odd shut up. Kids say no. We are breaking up with that term.

THIS IS THE CONFORMITY I HAVE REFUSED FOR THIRTY FUCKING YEARS OF PEOPLE TRYING TO CLEAN UP MY POTTY MOUTH. YOU PEOPLE ANNOY THE CRAP OUT OF ME.

But I said I’d try. Eldest said she would be calling me on every slip and reminding me that it is not ok to demean them.

I love that child so much my heart soars. I look forward to knowing you as an adult my precious.

My kids have my fierce requirement to be respected… without all the breakage that makes me brittle underneath. It’s really nice to be around.

Eldest child told me she thought she was “bad” for coming and misrepresenting what the other grown up meant about leaving soon. I said, “Well–I wouldn’t call it bad. I would say it was annoying or irritating or selfish. I wouldn’t say bad. Let’s talk about “bad”. How about if you tell me a few things you think are bad then I’ll tell you a few things I think are bad.”

Every single example she gave me I told her, “Nope that’s annoying. Nope, that’s irritating. Nope, that’s selfish.” She finally said, “If being bad doesn’t mean being annoying or irritating or selfish, what does it mean?”

I said, “Remember how we were at the lake earlier and everyone was having fun throwing rocks?”

“Yeah.”

“Remember how once or twice you threw a little bit to close to someone and M and I both freaked out and said THROW AWAY FROM PEOPLE!?!”

“Yeah.”

Ok, let’s say… oldest boy from that family was being a jerk-face. People do that some time. Let’s say he did something you really didn’t like. If you picked up a rock and threw it at his head… THAT WOULD BE BAD. It could cause a concussion. It could cause him to drown and die. You don’t get to make choices that risk other peoples lives. THAT’S BAD. If I asked you to get out of the swimming hole and wait on the side while I went to the bathroom and instead of waiting you took off and went down the river because you want to see where the river meets with Lake Superior… that would be BAD right now because you are too little. Your body could easily be swept into the current and you could die. We wouldn’t be able to find you and save you. That would be BAD. If you did that when you were 16 and you had more body mass and more awareness of how to keep yourself safe… I’d be annoyed if you didn’t tell me in advance. It wouldn’t be bad.”

“Bad is about risking your life or someone else’s life because you just don’t care enough to treat life like it matters. Bad is not about being a little irritating or a little selfish or a little annoying. Those things are part of being human and people learning how to live with one another’s differences.”

“Many of the things that annoy me now, I will get used to and in the future I won’t feel annoyed. I feel annoyed now because I’m adjusting to a new person–I have to adjust to you every day because you change so fast–and that’s work. More work feels annoying. That doesn’t mean you should stop changing! It means I get to feel annoyed for a while and that’s ok.”

“I love you. I love that you have so much agency and strength and you want to go out and have impact on the world. Sometimes you are going to frustrate the shit out of me because you doing what you know to be right will not be the most convenient thing for me. That doesn’t mean you should change! It means I need to adjust. Adjusting can be a messy process.”

“I’m trying to have patience with you and sometimes I fail. That’s what me being impatient and fussy is about. It’s about me failing to have something I need to have. It’s not your fault and I’m not mad at you for being more than I can handle sometimes. I *want* you to be more than I can handle. But that means sometimes I’ll feel annoyed.”

“Me having feelings does NOT mean that you all of a sudden “are” something because of my fleeting feelings. You are who and what you are. You are not about me. My feelings are about me, not you. Your feelings are about you and not me. You want me to approve of you 100% of the time, so you feel kind of bad when I don’t. Sweet pea, you have to adjust to that too. You need to stop needing to have anyone approve of you 100%. It’s not going to happen in life. You still need to do what is right for you. Haters gonna hate. You need to be you.”

“And we’ve talked a lot about being selfish, right? You have to be a certain level of selfish or you will die. If you are too selfish then people don’t want to be around you. Selfish isn’t bad. Selfish is mandatory for survival. But sometimes you forget that an issue isn’t truly about survival and you are a little more selfish than strictly required and that’s annoying. It’s not BAD. It’s annoying. We all have to calibrate honey. Better to occasionally be a little too selfish because that’s annoying than to be not selfish enough… cause then your body and soul will get sick. It needs balance baby.”

Kiddo snuggled up to me with the biggest, warmest eyes and said, “I love you so much. I’m really glad I get you as my mom.”

I am so glad I get you as my child. Your kindness and generosity of spirit blow me away day by day.

Youngest child wanted to take care of me yesterday. This meant sitting in my lap and singing to me until I didn’t feel angry any more. It worked. I’m not sure I’ve had many times in my entire life when I have calmed down from feeling angry so fast. It was loving and sweet and wonderful and I am so grateful I get to know these people. I feel so loved and blessed. I don’t deserve them but I have them anyway and no one is going to take them from me. Mine.

I’m having feelings about push/pull. But you know what? People are worth figuring it out. The four kids watched All Dogs Go To Heaven together last night (on VHS–a first for my kids) and my friend and I had a wonderful grown up conversation. I really enjoy her company. She’s a delightful, well educated, insightful woman.

And it helps that she is hawt, hawt, hawt. It’s always kind of my friends to be so very easy on the eyes. Sigh.

Ahem. Not that I’m looking.

Ahem.

I’m being good.

I miss you Noah. Abstinence sucks. I can’t even masturbate. I don’t have enough privacy. THIS SUCKS. Eleven more days until I see Noah. And even when I see Noah I have no idea how we are going to make this happen.

Maybe I should go to a hardware store and get some lumber pieces so I can take everything out of the back of the van and put it on little risers under the side of the tent. Hmmmmm. Then I could have SOME horizontal space with a modicum of privacy. Won’t be fancy but I’ve fucked in smaller cars.

I’m thinking about you Noah. I’ll find a way. I’m climbing the walls.

This is the kind of problem I like solving.

Totally want a power strip. If I had a power strip I could put the plug in fridge under the awning and in places where I have an extension cord I could run my computer and the fridge. Like fancy.

I’m not sure what we are doing today. Probably more swimming. Even though everyone but me and my youngest burned a little yesterday. (We were napping in the shade. Like smart people.)

Maybe we’ll wait until a little later in the day and I’ll unload the back of the van and we can go to the farther sandy beach where you can have a bonfire and we can go/stay late enough for dinner. That might be fun. Apparently her family is into fire. I told her that if she and her kids are willing to build a fire my kids would be ecstatic because… I don’t do fires. We’ve been mostly camping for almost six weeks and not one fire to date. She looked shocked. She asked me why not. I said, “My brother self immolated. I’m just not real into fire.”

She agreed that it made sense. Oh good. But I don’t refuse to let my kids near fire…. I just want a responsible adult who is comfortable nearby.

Ha, yesterday at one point my eldest came in and said, “Her eldest (kid said name I’m not doing so) just hit me and I’m not sure why.”

“Well, was it an attempt to be playful?”

“I’m not sure. But it hurt.”

“Maybe you should go ask him, “Did you mean that whack to be playful? Because it didn’t feel playful–it hurt.”

So she did. Verbatim.

He said, “It didn’t hurt. I only did this.” and he did it again. And again my eldest said “OW!”

He looked surprised.

I said, “Well, different people are differently sensitive. My eldest has always had an extremely tender head. Brushing involves crying. She hates having people gently stroke her hair because it feels too intense… it may be that you were trying to be gentle and you didn’t know that you have to be even more gentle than that with her head. She really doesn’t like pressure.”

He looked a bit surprised. But then said, “Oh. Ok I can adjust to that.”

I said, “Yay!” My eldest hugged him. He looked… perplexed.

We are so funny.

Things improved after I got my head out of my ass. I’m telling you, ALL OF THIS WOULD BE EASIER IF I WAS STONED.

I am having a lot of fun here. My children continue to be the center of my world and I am so grateful for them. They make me feel so much joy and love. I feel appreciated. I feel valued.

I don’t feel like my kids are biologically dependent on me so ok fine we are together. I feel like my kids like me.

That doesn’t always happen. I’m very lucky.

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